I read or heard something interesting about this recently. I believe it was Bill W saying something about we should not be anonymous at meetings. I was brought up to say only my first name at meetings, and that was the dominant culture there and then. It still is, here and now, though I notice some people do give their first and last name.
What I heard or read about back in the day was that people needed to be able to find each other. I guess AAs were so few and far between, they couldn’t go to a meeting and then survive on their own, alone, in between. Where I live now there are almost constant meetings. There is a 24 hour club house in the city, and there are buses to take people there. There is a 24 hour answering service and a list of people who will call you if you need to talk to someone. There are legions of people who will give someone a ride to a meeting. There are online meetings and message boards and blogs. There are books you can buy without leaving your chair.
No one needs to track me down from a meeting in order to get help staying sober. I actually have a landline, but I don’t answer it, and I don’t know if it’s attached to my name or Carole’s. So I’m thinking I don’t need to give my last name at a meeting.
I don’t hide my identify from people at the meetings, and Carole and I always invite everyone over to our house in between Christmas and New Years. I get the acknowledgment letters from the General Service Office sent to me at my house and I file those letters in my meeting’s general binder. So the General Service Office knows my identify as well.
My immediate family knows I’m in the program. Two people I work with right now know. One I’ve known for a very long time, the other got sent to mandatory treatment for a DUI, so I told her. Through the years I’ve told other people at work who I’ve gotten close to or who seemed to need help.
At this point I pretty much wish everyone would just know without being told. I didn’t always feel this way. I used to hate telling people, because then when I inevitably drank again, they would know I shouldn’t be doing that.
I don’t write my name or show my face here, because I believe that’s in keeping with the Tradition. I don’t put anything here I wouldn’t want on the local news. I break my anonymity when I think it would be helpful, or when someone should just get to know me on that level. It works well for me, and I hope more than anything that I’m a good example and a good ambassador for AA.